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Herman Frasch

  Herman Frasch, Hermann Frasch (December 25, 1851, Oberrot bei Gaildorf, Württemberg - May 1, 1914, Paris) was a mining engineer and inventor. In October 20, 1890, he took out three patents for the Frasch Process.

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He emigrated to the US in 1868. In 1885 he started the Empire Oil Company, Petrolia, Ontario. The oil from Petrolia contained up to 0.7 % sulfur, which gave the petroleum made from it a strong odor and the name skunk oil, which was practical not marketable. After several tries he was able to desulfurize the petroleum by reacting the oil vapor with a mixture of iron, lead, and copper oxide. The formed sulfides were roasted in air to remove the sulfur, to reform the oxides which could be then reused.

The Standard Oil of John D. Rockefeller in Lima suffered from the same problem. Thus, Rockefeller bought the Empire Oil Company and employed Herman Frasch to solve this problem. The Hermann process worked for the first time in an industrial scale in 1888. As he was paid in shares of Standard Oil, Herman Frasch became rich with the success of his method.

During the search for oil in Louisiana, near the present-day town of Sulphur, sulfur was found under a layer of 200-300 m of quicksand. All attempts to get to the sulfur with conventional mining shafts ended in disaster. Herman Frasch bought the surrounding area, but the sulfur containing area was not on his property. He patented his Frasch Process in 1890 and made a contract with the owners of the sulfur deposit.

The first sulfur was extracted in 1894, but high water and energy consumption, as well as the presence of toxic hydrogen sulfide were problems which had to be solved.

Herman Frasch became head of the Union Sulphur Company which dominated the sulfur market until his patents ran out in 1911. Herman Frasch was accounted as the sulphur king. After the sulfur deposits where exhausted the company changed its focus from sulfur to oil.

Frasch's surname is often mis-spelt Frash.


  • (1914) "Obituaries - Herman Frasch, Paul L. V. Héroult". Industrial & Engineering Chemistry 6 (6): 505 - 507. doi:10.1021/ie50066a024.
  • Herman Frasch (1912). "The Perkin's Medal Award - Address of Acceptance". Industrial & Engineering Chemistry 4 (2): 134 - 140. doi:10.1021/ie50038a016.
  • Herman Frasch (1918). "UNVEILING OF THE PORTRAIT OF HERMAN FRASCH". Industrial & Engineering Chemistry 10 (4): 326 - 327. doi:10.1021/ie50100a038.
  • History of Sulphur (Sulphur, Louisiana)
  • Stuart Bruchey (1960). "Brimstone, The Stone That Burns: The Story of the Frasch Sulphur Industry by Williams Haynes". Journal of Economic History 20 (2): 326-327.
  • Walter Botsch (2001). "Chemiker, Techniker, Unternehmer: Zum 150. Geburtstag von Hermann Frasch". Chemie in unserer Zeit 35 (5): 324 - 331. doi:<324::AID-CIUZ324>3.0.CO;2-9 10.1002/1521-3781(200110)35:5<324::AID-CIUZ324>3.0.CO;2-9.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Herman_Frasch". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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